I love traveling for work, but am getting really, really tired of traveling for business. This year, I’ve already attended nine conferences and am leaving for Washington, DC tomorrow.
Business travel is completely different from personal travel. Yeah, it is paid for by someone else, but that means someone else owns your time.
Fortunately I work with awesome people and do manage to get a bit of free time, but still, it is business travel.
While packing this afternoon I realized I’ve learned a lot from my year of traveling – most of it from experiencing business travel problems. Hopefully, this list will help you avoid a few of my travel mistakes, particularly if you need first time flying tips.
I’ve also included my business travel packing list at the bottom with links to some of my favorite products.
6 Business Travel Tips
1. Always check the weather
I know this sounds obvious, but it is surprisingly easy to miss the basics. Always plan for the worst weather conditions. I’m the proud owner of a new jacket (Denver), gloves (Chicago), umbrella (Nashville) and hat (Boston) and if I had time to shop, shorts while in San Antonio.
I always check the weather, but for some reason still, pack the wrong stuff. Just assume the worst and plan accordingly.
If I’m going to a colder area I always pack at a minimum the following:
- Mid to lightweight jacket
- Gloves (I like the kind with the finger pads for cell phones)
- Thick Nylons – Nylons provide an excellent warmth layer and are small enough to be worn under pants and look great under skirts depending on the dress code.
- Umbrella (as needed)
2. Business Travel Requires Packing light
I know this contradicts my first point, but you can still pack light and be prepared. The trick is to plan everything out in advance.
Prior to packing I review my schedule and plan out my business and casual outfits. Remember, black is your new best friend. It goes with everything (plus is very slimming). I pick shirts that are multi-purpose and go with a variety of dress pant and jeans.
I always include a basic black dress jacket that can be worn over anything to dress up an outfit.
Although I love skirts and dresses, my top priority when traveling is comfortable shoes, which means I stick with dress pants. I want shoes that can be worn all day without blisters. I limit my shoe selection to two options – brown and black. If I have room I throw in a pair of running shoes.
Wear your heavier/bulkier clothing on the plane. This will keep you warmer and give you more clothing options.
3. Cords, Chargers & Batteries Are A Must When Traveling For Work
Don’t forget your electronic life when packing.
I forgot all my chargers when I went to Denver. As in every single charger! That means no cell phone, no computer, no Ipad, no wireless hotspot. Fortunately, my SLR Camera batteries were charged or I probably would have cried.
Plan out your electronic needs and make sure you have all of the appropriate gear.
I had my cords/chargers piled up next to my backpack but was rushing around in the morning and left them (and my jacket) sitting on the floor.
Which brings me to my next point.
4. Pack everything in advance
In the case of my infamous (to me anyway) Denver trip, I broke this rule. Typically I start packing 2-3 days prior to my trip.
Always ask yourself what items will be difficult to locate on-site? Make sure you include those items first. This could include medicine and other specialized items. If you are on a tight schedule spending time searching for medicine isn’t fun.
I do my shopping and laundry, and then plan out my activities and wardrobe choices. Typically I have my bag packed two days prior to my trip. This gives me time to review my lists and ensure nothing is forgotten.
Another reason I like packing in advance is because work always seems to explode prior to my leaving on a work business trip. I always work extra hours prior to business tips and last minute packing when you are already exhausted is not fun.
5. Plan for lost luggage
I’ve only experienced this once and it was coming home, so I’ve lucked out. My husband had it happen on one of his business trips to China. He spent two days in China without luggage. Miserable! My husband is 6.1′ so finding clothes that fit wasn’t much of an option.
If possible stick with carry-on luggage. Unfortunately, I’ve usually got extra work stuff and am stuck with a larger suitcase, but whenever possible limit myself to a smaller bag.
I don’t travel in business clothing, but I always wear a nice outfit that can crossover if needed. If I’m unable to do carry on luggage, I always keep my jewelry, electronic gear and any other valuables with me.
6. Arrive early at the Airport
The extra sleeping time is not worth the hassle that comes from missing your flight.
Just so you know, you can’t check in luggage 42 minutes before your flight (missed my Boston Flight). You have to be at least 45 minutes early to check luggage.
I’ve also learned that hard way that getting through security can take more than 30 minutes. These days, my goal is to arrive at least 1½ hours early. Is it usually overkill – yes, but the peace of mind makes it worthwhile.
Which on a side note, always make sure and check your gate on the computer screens. Don’t assume your ticket is correct. There is nothing worse than running from one gate to another with 15 minutes to spare.
Business Travel Packing List For Women:
In my Toiletry Bag:
- Personal Medications
- Toothpaste and Toothbrush – I love these toothbrush covers.
- Make-up remover wipes
- Hair Supplies (brush, shampoo, conditioner, hair spray . . . . )
- Curling Iron or other hair styling products
- I use the Savvy Curls Head roller when I’m traveling. I love using them when flying. I think I look like a dork with the curler in, but I always get compliments from strangers who think it is a cute hairstyle.
- Make-up Kit
- Tampons – because it will always come at the worst possible time
Basic Clothing List For A 3-4 Day Business Trip:
2-3 Pair of business pants – These are some of my current favorites:
1-2 Pair of Jeans
I like the darker washing without any holes in case I need to use them for any business-related functions.
2-3 Dressy shirts that coordinate with all your bottoms.
1-2 casual shirts for travel and after hour fun.
Comfortable Dress Shoes!!!! I have a lot more fun traveling when my feet are comfortable.
- If you are worried about your shoes staining your clothing you can wrap them in shower caps for protection.
- Socks and underwear as needed
- Exercise clothing if you have room
Travel Extra’s You Don’t Want To Forget
- Phone Charger
- Kindle/Ipad Charger
- Computer Charger
- Batteries/chargers for any other electronic devices you may need
- Something to read
Cold Weather Business Travel Gear
- Mid to lightweight jacket – I purchased a similar jacket to this from North Face ten years ago and still wear it all the time for travel. It looks dressy enough for virtually anything but is super warm. If you are looking for something a bit more funky you have to check out this jacket as well.
- Gloves (I like the kind with the finger pads for cell phones)
- Beanie Hat
- Thick Leggins/Nylons – Nylons provide an excellent warmth layer and are small enough to be worn under some pants and look great under skirts depending on the dress code.
- Travel Umbrella
Business Travel can be fun if you are prepared
Traveling is stressful enough without compounding the negativity with poor planning. Why not take the time to plan prior to your trip, so you have time to enjoy yourself on your trip.
Please comment below if you have any other travel mistakes to avoid.
PS. If you are traveling with a baby you may enjoy: How To Fly With A Baby
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